The free press was always intended to serve a specific function: Inform the American public on the important issues of the day. The Fourth Estate was also supposed to be an entity that fought on behalf of the American public against the wrongdoing and corruption of those in power, both inside and outside the government. Indeed, journalists were supposed to be a bulwark against bad actors who wished to prey upon those who could not defend themselves.
Unfortunately, the American media establishment has failed to live up to this ideal. Throughout its history, members of the press have used their platforms to pursue their own agendas. In some cases, their practices have pushed the United States into war. The yellow journalism of Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst is credited with igniting the Spanish-American War.
Unfortunately, the press has not changed for the better. American news media has continued to neglect their intended role in favor of pursuing a progressive political agenda. It remains an influence machine — one that deals more in persuasion than factual reporting.
Fortunately, there are journalists who take their craft seriously. They use their platforms to expose corruption and to make sure the world is informed of the wrongdoing of bad actors on the world stage. The International Center for Journalists recently held their awards dinner where they honored several members of the press who distinguished themselves through superior journalism.
Award Winners Provide Model For Superior Journalism
Joseph Poliszuk, the co-founder of a news website named Armando.info, was one of the winners of the Knight International Journalism award. He was given the award for his work in exposing a Colombian businessman who financially supported Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has oppressed the people of Venezuela for years.
The businessman in question is Alex Saab, who recently filed a defamation suit against Poliszuk and his partners for publishing articles detailing Saab’s business ties to the Venezuelan government’s program designed to fight starvation. The program, which is called Local Sourcing and Production Committee (CLAP), has come under fire because Maduro has been using the program to cement his hold on power.
Poliszuk discovered that one of Saab’s companies had a deal with the Venezuelan government that allowed them to transport food used for the CLAP program into Venezuela. In this way, they enabled Maduro to weaponize food to support his allies while harming his detractors. The journalists and his partners were forced to leave Colombia as the defamation suit could result in jail time.
Filippino journalist Maria Ressa was the second recipient of the Knight award for her work in exposing President Rodrigo Duterte’s increasingly violent actions in the country’s war on drugs. The war, which has killed about 8,000 people, has received worldwide condemnation.
In response to the negative news coverage, Duterte first boycotted the media. Then, he decided to use the power of the government news outlets that were critical of him. Eventually, he set his sights on Rappler, Ressa’s news site. The country’s Securities and Exchange Commission began harassing the company, forcing them to turn over a plethora of documents, including paperwork confirming that the company is Filippino-owned.
“It was clearly a fishing expedition,” Ressa told reporters. “It was a case of being guilty until proven innocent. There was never any formal charge given.
Earlier this year, the Filippino government revoked Rappler’s license. In response, Ressa held a press conference. “I’m banking on the fact that there are still good people in government who will prevent this,” she said. “I’ve been a journalist for more than 33 years, and at Rappler we refuse to change, I refuse to be bullied.”
What About The American Press?
The American press once idolized people like Ressa and Poliszuk. Both of these individuals are waging legitimate battles against injustice, not simply promoting a political agenda. And yet, it is not likely that either of these people will be touted as excellent examples of journalism by the American media establishment.
Regrettably, the legacy media now props up individuals like CNN’s Jim Acosta, whose only goal seems to be grandstanding and attacking the Trump administration. Indeed, when President Obama was in office, neither Acosta — or any of his colleagues — engaged in the blatantly unfair attacks that they have embraced under President Trump.
What is truly interesting about the de-evolution of the establishment media is their apparent lack of awareness when it comes to their bias. They seem to believe that the American public does not see the game they are playing. Studies have shown that the public not only distrusts the media, but they view them as more divisive than President Trump. Nevertheless, the press persists, thinking they are pulling the wool over the eyes of the people. Unfortunately for them, the public isn’t falling for it.